About Cognates

The Cognates Program comprises the Areas of Knowledge component of the University of Miamis framework for General Education. Students fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement by selecting and completing a cognate in the three areas of the university curriculum:

1. Arts & Humanities (A&H)
2. People & Society (P&S)
3. Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)

A cognate requires a minimum of at least three courses, for at least nine credit hours. A major, minor, thematic cognate, or an individualized cognate will satisfy the requirement.

  • Thematic cognates are established by faculty and include courses grouped by theme or focus. A thematic cognate may center on a discipline, a problem, a topic, a region, a method, a time period, another language, or an experience abroad, among many other possibilities.
  • Individualized cognates allow students to create cognates by choosing from a list of courses that have the same area of knowledge designation. (Click here to download FAQs about individualized cognates.)

Choosing a Cognate


You choose your cognates. Your interests, goals, and curiosities should guide your decision. You may select more cognates than the required three. The title of each thematic cognate you complete will appear on your transcript. Completed individualized cognates will appear as "Individualized Cognate."

The cognate search engine lists the thematic cognates currently available and lets you search for cognates based on their areas of knowledge, features, courses, and keywords. Each thematic cognate is administered by an academic department or program, known as the RAU (Responsible Academic Unit), that devised and sponsors the cognate. If you have questions about a thematic cognate or wish to propose a substitution for a course in it, you should consult the RAU responsible for the cognate. Your academic advisor can help you make the appropriate contact.

The cognate search engine can help you shape a program of learning that is broad, coherent, exciting, substantive, and uniquely your own. You can utilize the cognate search engine to explore thematic cognates as well individual courses that have been approved to be utilized in individualized cognates. A searchable list of courses eligible to be used in individualized cognates is available here.

By fusing the University's intellectual strengths with your distinctive interests, the Cognates Program lets your educational passions and strengths drive your learning. Your education will matter most, and you will do your best college work, if you are engaged with and by what you study.

Glossary

Cognate, a major, minor, thematic cognate, or individualized cognate containing a group of at least three courses, for at least nine credit hours.

Thematic Cognate Substitution Request, a student may request to substitute a course in a thematic cognate for one not listed as part of that cognate. The student should submit their request to the Responsible Academic Unit (RAU) sponsoring the cognate for their approval. Once approved, the student submits the approval to their school/college for processing. (Substitution Request Form)

Student Proposed Thematic Cognate, students may propose a thematic cognate to a Responsible Academic Unit (RAU). The proposal should include a set of at least five generally accessible courses that exhibit a common theme or focus. If the faculty in the RAU concur with the students’ proposal, the RAU will submit it to the appropriate school and university committees for adoption as a regular thematic cognate available to all students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore Cognates

Search by:

  • Keywords
  • Course Names
  • Course Codes (ENC 101)
For complete information about general education requirements and cognates, please consult the University Bulletin.

What is the educational purpose of the Cognates Program?

The University Bulletin states: "The Areas of Knowledge requirement is intended to help students understand and appreciate intellectual achievements in major areas of human inquiry and creative endeavor." The Cognates Program comprises the Areas of Knowledge component of the University of Miamis framework for General Education.

Can students take more than one cognate in a single RAU?

The University Bulletin states: "Thematic cognates taken to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement (including cognates fulfilled by majors and minors) must have different Responsible Academic Units (RAUs). No more than two Areas of Knowledge may be fulfilled by thematic cognates whose RAUs are in the same school or college, except for the College of Arts and Sciences." Beyond the required three cognates, students may take cognates from any RAU.

Can students take multiple cognates in the same School or College?

If a student utilizes thematic cognates to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement, students must take at least one thematic cognate outside their School or College. This does not apply to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.

How do students enroll in a cognate?

Students should declare their cognates, as they do their minors and majors, by the end of their sophomore year at the latest. Students should meet with their academic advisor to learn their Schools or Colleges process for declaring cognates.

Can a course count towards more than one cognate?

The University Bulletin states: "A course may not be used to satisfy the requirements of more than one cognate that a student uses to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement. This rule applies whether the Area of Knowledge requirement is being met by a major, a minor, or a designated cognate."

Can courses taken outside UM count towards cognates?

The University Bulletin states: "Transfer courses, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CLEP, and dual enrollment courses that are transferred in with specific UM course equivalencies can be used in thematic cognates. Courses that transfer in with non-specific UM course credit hours can be used in thematic cognates only by application to the cognate's RAU. Only courses, UM or transfer, that have an Area of Knowledge attribute in CaneLink can be used in an individualized cognate."

Can a students major or minor require the student to take a specific cognate to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge component?

Majors and minors cannot require students to take specific cognates to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement.

Starting in Fall 2021, undergraduate students can use individualized cognates to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge general education requirement. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the new individualized cognate option.

Click here to download FAQ

Explore Cognates

Search by:

  • Keywords
  • Course Names
  • Course Codes (ENC 101)

What is the educational purpose of the Cognates Program?

The University Bulletin states: "The Areas of Knowledge requirement is intended to help students understand and appreciate intellectual achievements in major areas of human inquiry and creative endeavor." The Cognates Program comprises the Areas of Knowledge component of the University of Miamis framework for General Education.

Can students take more than one cognate in a single RAU?

The University Bulletin states: "Thematic cognates taken to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement (including cognates fulfilled by majors and minors) must have different Responsible Academic Units (RAUs). No more than two Areas of Knowledge may be fulfilled by thematic cognates whose RAUs are in the same school or college, except for the College of Arts and Sciences." Beyond the required three cognates, students may take cognates from any RAU.

Can students take multiple cognates in the same School or College?

If a student utilizes thematic cognates to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement, students must take at least one thematic cognate outside their School or College. This does not apply to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.

How do students enroll in a cognate?

Students should declare their cognates, as they do their minors and majors, by the end of their sophomore year at the latest. Students should meet with their academic advisor to learn their Schools or Colleges process for declaring cognates.

Can a course count towards more than one cognate?

The University Bulletin states: "A course may not be used to satisfy the requirements of more than one cognate that a student uses to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement. This rule applies whether the Area of Knowledge requirement is being met by a major, a minor, or a designated cognate."

Can courses taken outside UM count towards cognates?

The University Bulletin states: "Transfer courses, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CLEP, and dual enrollment courses that are transferred in with specific UM course equivalencies can be used in thematic cognates. Courses that transfer in with non-specific UM course credit hours can be used in thematic cognates only by application to the cognate's RAU. Only courses, UM or transfer, that have an Area of Knowledge attribute in CaneLink can be used in an individualized cognate."

Can a students major or minor require the student to take a specific cognate to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge component?

Majors and minors cannot require students to take specific cognates to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement.

Starting in Fall 2021, undergraduate students can use individualized cognates to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge general education requirement. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the new individualized cognate option.

Click here to download FAQ

Explore Cognates

Search by:

  • Keywords
  • Course Names
  • Course Codes (ENC 101)

How does a student enroll in a cognate?

Cognates must be declared (like majors and minors). Each college and school provides a process for this.

Can a course count towards more than one cognate?

A course may be used to fulfill the requirements of only one cognate (including cognates fulfilled by majors and minors) that a student uses to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement.

Can a student substitute courses in a cognate?

Students may petition for individual course substitutions in cognates. This is done by delivering a completed application for substitution to the RAU of the cognate. Substitution will be granted only if there are compelling reasons.

Can courses taken outside UM count towards cognates?

Yes, transfer courses, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CLEP, dual enrollment, etc., that are transferred to UM with specific UM course credit, can be used in cognates.

Can multiple cognates be taken in the same academic department or program?

The three cognates (including cognates fulfilled by majors and minors) taken to fulfill the Areas of Knowledge requirement must have different RAUs. Students may take extra cognates from any RAU.

Can multiple cognates be taken in the same college or school?

No more than two Areas of Knowledge may be fulfilled by cognates (including cognates fulfilled by majors and minors) whose RAUs are in the same school or college, except for the College of Arts and Sciences. Students may take extra cognates from any school or college.

Can a student's major or minor require the student to take any specific cognates?

Majors and minors cannot require students to take specific cognates to fulfill the cognate requirements outside the Area of Knowledge fulfilled by the major or minor.

Can a student change from the cognates format back to the old general education format?

No.